Jet Ski brands “blindsided” by NSW licence fees, seek meeting with policymakers

All three major Jet Ski brands – Sea-Doo, Yamaha WaveRunner and Kawasaki Jet Ski – say they were “blindsided” by the NSW Government’s record price increases to Jet Ski licence fees, and have now requested a meeting over the matter.

After years of inaction over rising Jet Ski licence fees in NSW – which were already the highest in the world – the three major brands Sea-Doo, Yamaha and Kawasaki say they now want to plead their case with policymakers.

Despite charging customers record high prices for new Jet Skis over the past few years – with several models now eclipsing $30,000 – the three major Jet Ski brands Sea-Doo, Yamaha and Kawasaki have been conspicuously silent over the draconian licence fees for riders in NSW.

As previously reported by Watercraft Zone, the latest round of price rises reset what were already the highest prices in the world for a Jet Ski licence.

Jet Ski licence fee increases in NSW from 1 July 2024:

  • 1 year Jet Ski licence: Was $210, now $245 (up 17 per cent)
  • 3 year Jet Ski licence: Was $460, now $662 (up 44 per cent)
  • 5 year Jet Ski licence: Was $720, now $1042 (up 45 per cent)
  • 10 year Jet Ski licence: Was $1043, now $1961 (up 88 per cent)

Half of the states in Australia charge the same licence fee for boats and Jet Skis, the other half charge a modest premium.

In some states, such as Queensland, a Jet Ski licence can be obtained for life for a one-off fee.

You can read the full story here, where Watercraft Zone compares NSW licence fees to every other jurisdiction in Australia.

Finally, after years of sitting on the sidelines – and not wanting to rock the boat with authorities – the three major brands Sea-Doo, Yamaha and Kawasaki now say they want to join the Boating Industry Association in a meeting with policymakers.

Jet Ski riders in NSW – and in neighbouring states – last weekend took to social media to slam the harsh licence fee increases and accused policymakers of trying to price Jet Ski users out of the sport.

In another twist to the saga, it has now been revealed that the NSW Government quietly announced the changes late last Friday afternoon – presumably in the hope it would go unnoticed and unreported given it was the end of the working week.

A media statement from the Boating Industry Association – which represents all major boating and Jet Ski brands – said no-one in the industry was consulted about the changes and no warnings were given. 

The peak industry body said Sea-Doo, Yamaha, and Kawasaki were “blindsided by the increases”.

“The BIA has supported Transport for NSW over many years to promote safe boating and it is disappointing this announcement was made late on a Friday and without appropriate consultation with industry,” said BIA spokesman Neil Patchett in a media statement.

“We are now seeking a meeting with the Department and the Minister to hear the justification for increases well beyond CPI (inflation).

“We will also be asking why now at a time of significant cost-of-living pressures on all Australians, because these government charges will be impacting a significant number of people.”

As reported by Watercraft Zone over the weekend, the NSW Government said the cost of enforcing Jet Ski rider behaviour – as well as the higher proportion of Jet Ski injuries – were the main reasons behind the fee increases.

However, motorcyclists are over-represented in serious injury and fatal crashes on the road and yet they are not penalised with extra-ordinary licence fees versus cars.

Young P-plate drivers are also over-represented in serious injury and fatal crashes on the road and yet they are charged the same licence fees as full licence holders.

On social media the Jet Ski community accused authorities of punishing the majority for the actions of a few rogue riders.

Some Jet Ski riders claimed on social media they would apply for a licence interstate, however this would be deemed as unlicensed riding if authorities can prove the person still lives in NSW as their primary residence.

Common feedback on social media accused authorities of price-gouging or revenue raising.

Among the more reasoned responses, instead of astronomical licence fees a number of experienced Jet Ski riders called for:

  • Harsher penalties for riders who do the wrong thing
  • Seize the watercraft operated by rogue riders
  • Introduce practical, on-water education programs before licences are granted
  • More enforcement in low-speed zones and near boat ramps

In the meantime, it is unclear if the NSW Government has accepted the meeting request from the boating industry and the Jet Ski brands – and whether a meeting will even go ahead.

Check back with Watercraft Zone for more on the NSW licence issue as new information becomes available.

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